|SignWriting List Forum|
Steve/Dianne Parkhurst |
Date: Mon Jun 1, 1998 8:27 am
Subject: Literacy concepts
We (Steve and Dianne Parkhurst, in Spain) have been following the
discussion on SW literacy with much interest. We are currently developing
materials to teach Deaf adults with the hopes that this will spark a
national interest in reading and writing SL among the Deaf in Spain. We
hope to help teach a trial course in February-March next year. We will fill
you in on how the preparations are going when it gets a bit closer to that
time. In preparation for this literacy work we have done a lot of reading
and talking to literacy experts who work with minority spoken languages. I
see three things that could be important to SW literacy. Let me encourage
you all to consider them:
1. Although SW is great for kids and helpful for hearing interpreters and
linguists, it is vitally important that Deaf ADULTS become interested in
reading and writing their language. In Spain, kids learn signs in the Deaf
school but the signs are replaced with other signs when they become active
in the Deaf club and learn what the adults are using. SW should not just be
a "school thing" but part of the adults' daily life too.
2. In order for a written language to be successful, you need lots and
lots of things to read. I am excited to see that Valerie is encouraging
people to create a base of literature. This literature needs to be
appropriate for adults too. Let's start putting Deaf poetry, stories,
history, into SW.
3. In desiging a literacy program, we need to allow time to gain fluency.
We have taught Deaf Spaniards the basic symbols of SW in just a few hours.
But they never use the knowledge and soon forget the symbols. Why? To learn
to read and write a language you need TIME and lots of PRACTICE. We need to
practice reading and writing every day, starting with simple stuff and
getting more and more complex.
These are things we are trying to incorporate into our program here in
Spain. It's not easy! And we are still a long way from having everything
ready. However, it is all worth the effort. Let's not have people get
excited about reading and writing their language, learning how, and then
never having the opportunity to use that skill. They'll become frustrated
with the whole system and decide it isn't worth anything. This has (sadly)
happened many times with spoken minority languages around the world. Let's
keep that from happening with SW!
I am really excited about how SW is developing in the States and now here
in Spain. What people are doing with teaching kids and develping kids'
stories is super great! Keep it up! But now let's move forward a bit and
start making the system work for Deaf adults too.
Best wishes to you all,
Steve and Dianne Parkhurst